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July 9, 2013
Underclassmen Challenge: Ranking the WRs/TEs
DeSOTO, Texas -- The Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge presented by Under Armour was the final event of the inaugural Rivals Camp Series. Rivals.com analyst Kynon Codrington breaks down the top wide receivers and tight ends.
RIVALS UNDERCLASSMEN CHALLENGE TOP WRs AND TEs
1. WR Stanley Norman, Culver City, Calif. (2015)Norman saved his best effort for one-on-ones, and he beat whoever was trying to stick the smooth playmaker. At one point, he was asking the analyst team who was the best defensive back so he could embarrass him, too. He has soft hands and knows how to set up his opponent. His athleticism is a major plus because he can play on the defensive side of the ball in college. However, there is little doubt that can be a prolific pass catcher at the next level.
2. WR Tyron Johnson, New Orleans (La.) Warren Easton Charter (2015)Johnson is a lanky wideout who has good suddenness and quickness coming off the ball. He can climb the ladder to win jump balls in traffic. We liked his ability to get behind defenders without wasted motion. His hands are reliable, and at times things looked very easy for him. He had a great grab on a skinny post that was top-play worthy.
3. WR Demetris Robertson, Savannah (Ga.) Country Day (2016)We knew Robertson was starting to pick up BCS interest this spring, but we didn't know how far he had come since the Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour in April. Every time we looked over to see a big play downfield, it was Robertson hauling in the pass and running away from his man. He is a good route runner and possesses deceptive speed. Georgia stopped to see him during spring ball, and this fall he could see several others based on his performance on the camp circuit.
4. WR Deddrick Thomas, Memphis (Tenn.) Central (2015)The Memphis native is a bit light, but that doesn't stop him from making plays against defensive backs with more size. Thomas is a speedy slot wideout who is ultra quick off the line. He is very good operating in the short area, and he can stretch the field on vertical routes. We like his confidence, and he isn't afraid to take on bigger defenders.
5. WR Carlos Strickland, Dallas (Texas) Skyline (2015)Strickland may not get the pub like some of his high-profile teammates at Skyline, but it's not because he lacks ability. He is a tall, wiry receiver who is a big red-zone target. It's easy for him to win jump balls at 6-foot-5, and he can be a matchup nightmare for smaller defensive backs. SMU has offered, and look for him to land more offers as a junior.
6. TE Will Gragg, Pine Bluff, Ark. (2015)The jumbo tight end is a nice option on seam and choice routes. He doesn't have great speed, but he gets the job done because of his size. He is more of a chain-moving receiver in the passing game. He could be a reliable go-to guy on key third-down situations for a college that uses two-tight end sets or heavy packages in its base offense.
7. WR Flynn Nagel, Lemont (Ill.) Marist (2015)All Nagel did was get open on almost every rep. In fact, we didn't see him lose a battle. If he didn't catch the ball, it was more likely an errant pass by the quarterback. He has solid speed to create separation to go with sure hands. Nagel was very productive and made the most of his opportunities in DeSoto. Before he gets compared to Wes Welker, we want to see him continue to develop and prove he is a BCS-level prospect. He has a good skill set, and if he progresses he can make his niche for a pass-first college offense.
8. WR Kalin Sadler, Lawton (Okla.) No (2015)Sadler is a speedy flanker with tremendous acceleration. He snagged a go route from Tyler Hilinski early in one-on-ones. The Oklahoma prospect doesn't gear down coming out of his breaks, and he ran good routes. His linear speed allows him to be a capable vertical threat. If he wants to be an elite receiver, he will need to add weight and fill out his body to get off press coverage against stronger defensive backs.
9. TE Chris Clark, Avon (Conn.) Avon Old Farms (2015)Clark landed just ahead of another talented tight end on our list. He was solid in the one-on-one portion of camp. Although he isn't a burner, he showed the speed needed to beat linebackers on a few seam routes. On film, he lines up at receiver and beats quicker defenders. The competition he faced in DeSoto was probably the best he has seen, and he stepped up to the challenge.
10. TE Kyle Penniston, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei (2015)At 6-foot-4, 224 pounds, Penniston provides a wide catch radius for quarterbacks. On Sunday, it was no different as he hauled in nice catches. When we saw him at RCS Chicago, he caught our attention in the tight end group because of his great build. This time, he showed superb athleticism and sure hands. There is a reason Florida State offered him early. He was the most athletic tight end in attendance, and he played like it.
11. WR James Proche, Dallas (Texas) Prime Prep Academy (2015)Proche turned around a few defenders when running his double moves. He made a great grab downfield against tight coverage. The rising junior holds a pair of offers. He runs a reported 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and his speed helps him get separation. Although he is only 5-foot-11, he plays bigger than his height and will fight for the ball.
12. WR Zack English, Prosper, Texas (2015)English must have learned a thing or two from former four-star teammate and Notre Dame signee Torii Hunter Jr. at Prosper because he was a top target at the Underclassmen Challenge. The diminutive split end used his size to his advantage to get past slower cornerbacks in one-on-ones. He made several receptions on different route combinations. When he lined up off the line, he used his quickness to get a clean release, leaving the opposition in trail technique. The 5-foot-8, 160-pounder is a dependable slot receiver at this stage in his career.
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